Dar es Salaam. The government will invest Sh10.6 billion in the 2021/22 financial year to increase production of seed crops, including those used in edible oil production.
The government targets an increase of cooking oil production to 400,000 tonnes in the next two financial years that will significantly reduce shortage of the product in the country.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Hussein Bashe made the statement in Parliament on Monday, May 10, 2021, during the Question and Answer Session.
He made the statement when responding to a question from Bunda Constituency MP, Boniphace Getere who demanded answers on reasons that led to Tanzania’s failure to sustain itself on edible oil and strategies set to ensure regions with environment that support production of seed crops are recognized and are given seeds.
In his response, Mr Bashe said the Sh10.6 billion that will be provided by the government will be used to improve irrigation infrastructure and expansion of production land owned by Agricultural Seeds Agency (ASA), noting that produced seeds will be distributed to farmers in all regions including Mara through the agency and private distributors.
“The government is continuing to mobilize the private sector to engage in seeds production and that it is ready to discuss with a company or an individual with intention to invest in seeds production in order to put procedures of cost reduction during production of seeds,” he said.
Responding to a supplementary question from Special Seats MP Mwantumu Zodo (CCM) who sought to know the government’s strategies to research on better sunflower varieties in order to increase production of crop seeds, Mr Bashe said currently hybrid and OPV were the varieties used, but researches were progressive.
“We plan to produce 400,000 tonnes of cooking oil in the next two years from 1.226 million tonnes of sunflower seeds, thus reducing the deficit,” he said.
In the 2021/22 season, 5,000 tonnes of seeds will be sown to produce 625,000 tonnes of seeds. After processing they can yield 170,000 tonnes of cooking oil.
Earlier, Mr Bashe said Tanzania’s yearly demand for cooking oil is 570,000 tonnes, while production capacity is 205,000 tonnes, leaving a shortage of 365,000 tonnes annually.
“This has made the country spend an average of Sh474 billion annually for importation of cooking oil,” he said.
According to him, the deficit was particularly caused by poor production of seed crops including sunflower, palms and cotton as well as the use of poor technology during processing.
He said the government will continue to mobilize cultivation of seed crops in region with favorable environments for seed crops production.
Mr Bashe said in the 2021/22 Fiscal Year, 680 extension officers in Singida, Dodoma and Simiyu will be given motorbikes in order to enhance monitoring and that they will be trained to start demonstration farms on the seed crops production and introduction of block farming.